On the last day in Essen, I practiced some tennis with Jenny Cerff. After tennis we packed up and loaded the car, then finally decided to walk next door to the Folkswang Museum, an art museum. It’s a nice airy place with some nice art…Rodin, Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso were amongst the artists and we saw a photography exhibit (Luigi Ghirri) which was interesting as the photographer had an interesting perspective (for example, taking photos of people from the back, to get the whole scene, and taking photos through windows and fences).
We left Essen for Düsseldorf and tomorrow I fly to Barcelona while Jenny flies back to winter in Cape Town.
Here are some photos from the museum. Can you tell I like Van Gogh?
Today Jenny Cerff and I had a plan (well I had a plan) to go to Düsseldorf, walk the full length of the Konigsallee and then go to the Rhine and walk along it and possibly visit a castle. We made it to Konigsallee and a few streets around it and not much further. We did however cross the Rhein in the car several times due to missing turns! Fortunately it’s not a toll road.
It was another lovely day, and there were again hoards of people out shopping and watching World Cup soccer.
We arrived about 11am in Düsseldorf and left after 9pm when shops were closing. Jenny is a shrewd bargain hunter and found some nice work and tennis clothes and I got a dress. We actually had to talk one dress (for Jenny) off of a mannequin since it was her size and the last one in the store. Below are the before and after photos of the mannequin. The mannequin’s arms had to be removed to remove the dress. Many years ago my Cup teammates and I attempted to undress a mannequin in a German sporting goods store to buy the clothing it was wearing. It was a hilarious moment in a “you had to be there” way (we removed a leg but not the shorts, finally a store employee helped us out). This time it was a smoother process…
We found a huge sports store, the Decathalon. It had everything from girls ballet leotards to bowls to camping gear to tennis clothes under one roof.
It was a fun day and we do plan to make it to the Rhein tomorrow after a morning tennis practice.
It was a perfect day for tennis today. It was in the 70s, slightly overcast and calm. Jenny Cerff warmed me up and Lyn Mortimer and I started play around 10:30. We even had a chair umpire, Sabine Henn (who will also be in Ulm for the world championships).
I played well today and beat Lyn 62 63. She had played consecutive three-setters, but ran well especially to dropshots and made a lot of winners, but I ran well too and hit a few winners and not so many errors.
There was a prize giving ceremony, then we left. I got ice for my shoulder, and had a racquet strung (and was able to see the 5th set of Fritz/Zverev…there’s no channel here carrying Wimbledon so I’ve only been listening to the Wimbledon channel on my phone). We returned bottles for the pfand (deposit) and had a relaxing evening.
Here are some German words: The first sign says that this is customer parking for this business and unlawfully parked vehicles will be towed. It’s always important to know how to avoid getting one’s car towed! The last sign says that Tennis Point is the largest tennis store in the world. The other signs are pretty self explanatory.
At European tournaments and especially at German ones, the custom is to have a drink with your opponent after the match. The day before the tournament began, workers were busy painting and putting together a wooden building with a grill and benches and tables under the trees. Here’s the menu:
Tomorrow we are off to Dusseldorf for the day. We will be back on Sunday to practice and see some of the finals before leaving Monday.
Thursday began with Thunder (donner) and lightning (blitzen) followed by scattered showers The courts got wet at the club but many people worked hard to dry them off, mostly by dragging mats around to get rid of puddles. No fancy clay court dryers here!
The 9am consolation matches were farmed out to other clubs and main draw 10:40 matches started by 10:30. Sabine and I got on at 11:15 for our 10:30 match (the one that was scheduled for 1:30, then 6pm then 10:30!
I won 62 60, but the first set was closer than that, many back and forth long games. Our match lasted about 75 minutes; the other semi between Gundi Weiland and Lyn Mortimer went over 3 hours. I saw some of the first set and both players were playing well, long rallies and deep slices. Lyn prevailed 57 64 62. We play tomorrow, presumably at 10:30.
Jenny Cerff won the consolation singles and is playing mixed now at 6pm. There’s a player dinner later.
Today, Wednesday (Mittwoch in German), I played my quarterfinal match against Sabine Robertz, a German player who lives about an hour from the tournament site. She is a quick, steady player, but I played well and beat her 60 61. We played on Center Court again and once again the stands were empty! I play next the winner of Sabine Schmitz, the #2 seed (and tournament director) or Annelies Simons from the Netherlands. They started late, after 6pm, since Annelies drives after work from the Netherlands to play). Update: Now the top half of the draw (with a local club team member) is scheduled for 10:30 am and the bottom half at 6pm with the final at 10:30 am! Originally both were scheduled for 1:30.
The top seed in my division, Australian Lyn Mortimer, took on Jutta Boekmann, who took out Jenny Cerff yesterday. Lyn prevailed in three sets, winning the third set decisively 61 after splitting two tight sets earlier. And speaking of Jenny, she won her consolation match today handily to put her in the consolation final tomorrow. Fortunately Jenny checked the draw one last time before going to sleep. She was surprised to find out she played at 9am! Not as surprised though as her opponent who didn’t have internet access and showed up at 11.
The match of the day was that between Nora Blom and Heidi Eisterlehner. Heidi won the first set; Nora attacked the net in the second successfully and continued her success in the third, going up 5-2 before Heidi changed tactics and drove the ball more, keeping Nora back. Nora had one match point at 65 before Heidi won the match 76 (5) in the third (62 36 76). It was a nice match between two outstanding players.
After I finished my noon match, Jenny and I did the rounds…of grocery stores. We stopped first at Edeka to get ice (the Edeka was the only store which carried ice of the three we visited today) and chocolates (Ritter Sport, 59 cents this week!); Aldi (apples), and Netto (owned by Edeka) (feldsalat, what we call Mache, a type of lettuce). We also learned many new words, to go with our new favorite saying Gute Fahrt (Bon Voyage or Good Trip).
This is a photo of the bottle recycling machine. Leergut hier means “empties here”, and of Jenny with our ice, a rare commodity here.
At the Aldi, we saw this sign that said Kundenparkplatz and parkdauer: customer parking and parking time (1 stn = 1 hour) respectively. (Since there was a photo of a car being towed, we wanted to know what the sign said.) In the stores, the chocolate and sweets aisles are long and fully stocked…similar to the chips aisles in an American store.
The last word of the day is ankunftszeit which means arrival time; it was on this placard which was in the rental car. We figured out that it was something to put o the dashboard showing what time we arrived in the parking lot.
Today was another warm, sunny day in Essen, and I finally played my first match. I played Eldeltraut Horstmann from Germany, a steady, quick lefty. However, she didn’t take any volleys or overheads in warm up…and approached the net only to retrieve drop shots. We had some good rallies, but I managed to win most of them, and after dropping the opening game won 61 60. We played on Center Court before one fan (hundreds of empty seats…must have been roaming the grounds instead of watching us!).
Jenny Cerff had the match of the day. She played Jutta Boekmann who is a member of the German Marble Cup team this year. She has a nice drop shot and a very good backhand. Jenny said she made too many errors in the first set but was on track in the second, on serve and finally broke to go up 65…then she started cramping. That was just as I finished my match (we started about 40 minutes later than Jenny). I could see she was having some issues but she still managed to win the 2nd set 76 (5). The third set was tough to watch since Jenny kept cramping, but she didn’t stop, fought till the end and lost 62 in the third. She plays consolation now at 9am…fast turnaround after a long match.
In the women’s 65s, Heide Eisterlehner plays Nora Blom in the final in a battle of two former world champions. Heide Orth is in the 75 semis in singles and doubles. I had a nice visit with all of them…Heide and Heidi are shown below.
And below are some words for the day, courtesy of the wall of the Mercure Hotel (which has one of these pairs on each floor in the stairwell).
After a day off , Jenny Cerff and I hit the practice court today for a final tune-up before the tournament. We had a solid practice. It was another warm sunny day, marred only by the racket of a grass mower cutting several feet of growth off the levee behind the courts. I thought they were grinding wood, it was so loud! Then music began over the PA system. It was a good challenge to our concentration.
I found out a bit about my opponent today. She’s a marathon runner, very fast and left handed, it’s a bit of a tricky opener. Jenny plays a woman who is on the German Cup team this year, also a challenge.
After tennis, as usual we bought ice from the Edeka, then hit Tennis Point (so I could get my racquet strung), and Penny Market.
The recycling of bottles here is interesting. There’s a deposit of 15-25 Euro cents on most cans and bottles. At most stores there’s a machine where customers can insert bottles they purchased at that chain and get a refund to use at the store. It’s fast and easy.
We returned to the club and they have put flags up from many countries including South Africa, which Jenny appreciated. There’s no USA 🇺🇸 flag though, so I stood in front of the German Open sign instead.
Top 65s players Nora Blom and Heidi Eisterlehner were in action on the 2 center courts today. Nora is shown below (iPhone photo).
Jenny Cerff and I had a good practice this morning at the ETUF club. The weather has been quite nice, with highs in the low 80s and lows in the upper 50s-low 60s, and a slight breezes, perfect for tennis. Sabine, the TD took a few photos of us from the club balcony overlooking the courts.
The draws are out and I play a good German player on Tuesday afternoon. The draw is below.
After about a two hour workout, I had a massage and Jenny had lunch, then we hit the Edeka to get ice (no ice at the club at all that we could find), and got back to the hotel. We went out wandering on foot to and Aldi market and then to a DM (something like a small Walgreen’s with organic snacks and no Snickers bars) where I got Saptil, my favorite travel laundry soap…though I did just find out there are laundromats nearby, so finding and using one may be another day’s adventure. We passed a lot of bakeries, which had some really tasty looking treats, but managed to resist. We figured out what this parking sign meant…pay parking.
Most of the stores we’ve been frequenting don’t take Visa, MasterCard or AmEx. They do accept some cards, but not those. So be prepared to use cash at Penny Market or Edeka.
This pretty church is next to our hotel, wedged between two modern buildings.
We are practicing very early tomorrow before going to Dusseldorf for the day to watch a German league match. More on that tomorrow (or more likely on Sunday).
Quick post before I try to get some jet lagged sleep here…
I arrived yesterday into Dusseldorf, Germany (via Frankfurt, from San Diego). My flight was on time to Germany. I had a decent cushion to make my next flight which was good because Customs was slow…we were held up one floor because there wasn’t room to process everyone downstairs. It was a hurry up and wait situation after that…I hurried to my flight and onto the plane…only to wait for about an hour before we took off. But halfway through the wait I fell asleep!
My tennis friend from So Africa, Jenny Cerff landed just before me and we met at the rental car agency. Though we had about the same length flights, she has no time change. I ended up with an automatic car of a brand I’d never heard of but it’s fine, not too big and has navigation.
We checked into our first hotel and then went out to the club, ETUF, which is on a small man made lake. The club has rowing, sailing, field hockey and tennis and is very nice. We wandered around and then Sabine Schmidt, the tournament director and a friend met us, showed us around the club house and we had a drink looking over the lake.
Today we had a good hit in the morning on the red clay. It will take a while to get used to but the courts were very nice. There was no ice at the club so we hit the Edeka grocery store and found a bag of the precious stuff (for my shoulder and Jenny’s drink) and moved to our new hotel, a Mercure which is quite nice. Sabine has negotiated nice prices here.
We then went to a Tennis-Point store which is sort of like a Tennis Express at home, a large tennis store (no Volkl racquets though 😠). We will be back, it has a plethora of clay court shoes of all brand types.
That’s it for now…tomorrow we’ll practice again and perhaps do a bit of site seeing again.